With Daniel Robertson on the disabled list and Willy Adames’ recent call up, the Rays are escaping their infield overpopulation for another few weeks. Adeiny Hechavarria should be back soon, though odds are he’ll probably be traded shortly after he’s reinstated.
Matt Duffy has seen the bulk of the playing time at third base these days, and with 2 years of control remaining past 2018 it remains to be seen how the Rays will deal with this situation, especially with the production he’s given them at third base.
Digging into the recent glut of infielders the Rays have seen take the field, one name really sticks out: Christian Arroyo. Arroyo has been filling in every now and then at third base, and occasionally at second. The former first round pick has slashed .289/.373/.444 with the big squad this season, albeit in a small sample size of 51 plate appearances.
The Rays are currently in the beginning stages of an enormous youth movement. Brad Miller was DFA’d, Jake Bauers just got called up, Adames is back in the show, Diego Castillo has arrived. I could go on and on. So, that begs the question: Should the Rays begin to play Arroyo full time at the hot corner?
If this small sample means anything to you, Arroyo can hit major league pitching when he’s given the chance. He’s making contact, and he’s shown life in his short stint with the Rays. One of the few of the gripes I’ve heard about Arroyo is his inability to sustain any sort of success without a very high BABIP.
His average exit velocity is approaching 91 mph. He’s hitting the ball hard, and he’s finding his way on base. I don’t see that as an issue. Had Arroyo been making weak contact as a whole, I would find it concerning.
As of now, anything that’s been in the zone has gotten whacked. That’s extremely valuable.
Emphasizing again that this is a small size, but Arroyo has a GB% of 78.1% with the Rays up to this point. Those numbers will normalize as he continues to step up to the plate. However, at what point do you look past the fact that he’s not going to give you much in the power department?
In 2015, Arroyo carried a 28.1% LD%, and it hit 22.4% in 2016. He spent 2015 in High-A ball, and 16 in Double-A. I’m not looking much into his 2017 numbers, and those were fueled by the Pacific Coast League environment. However, that still points to the high ground ball rate being an aberration, if you needed any proof. His bat to barrel skills are what you’d like to see for a middle infielder, and I think the weirdness that some might attribute to Arroyo is because he’s not your prototypical idea of a third baseman.
Christian Arroyo projects like a Matt Duffy-type talent. Plenty of contact plus gap to gap power. The Rays could decide to use Arroyo and Duffy as rotating Ben Zobrist-lite guys who go out there, move around the infield and hit. If not, it seems like Duffy won’t be sticking around for a long time. It’s not necessarily a bad thing because Duffy should be able to fetch a solid return.
Arroyo’s knack for hard contact alone makes him intriguing enough. He’s a stocky kid who should be able to put the ball into the gap, which is what the Rays need right now. It’s hard to build an offense around walks and singles, you’ve got to shoot one towards the wall every now and then.
Arroyo should be able to provide that, but first he’s got to get the playing time.